January 2011


In the last few weeks the word “roughhousing” has entered Everett’s vocabulary. As in “can we roughhouse?”, “can I roughhouse you?”, “can you roughhouse me?”. We have successfully taught him that roughhousing involves direct contact but shouldn’t hurt, so no hitting. And head-bonking is something we actively discourage now that his cranium has fully hardened, although discouragement alone has not been enough to keep Chris from thinking about wearing protective gear – a cup and a helmet with face mask could do a lot to cut down on collateral parent damage. Beyond that there are few rules other than “Please don’t draw any blood”. Of course Everett has little regard for these rules because the fun of roughhousing outweighs the perceived risks of parents who have made more than a couple emergency room visit in their lifetimes.

Roughhousing is one of those activities that is so fun that there is no such thing as enough, so we have had to devise ways to bring it to an end without too much drama. Everett listens to a lot of orders and admonitions from us (he recently said to Melissa something to the effect “You say no all the time”). As a result our opinion about when roughousing should end doesn’t carry much weight. But he does believe the timer, and he is willing to accept that that roughhousing will end once the timer beeps. The baby monitor in his room happens to look a lot like a timer. So he will often pick it up, point it toward me and say “Couple more minutes of roughhousing!”

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Civil Disobedience

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Amanda & Cress visited us over the holiday from just before Christmas to just after New Year’s Day, and it was a great visit in many ways. Everett is now fully engaged with Santa and left out snacks for him and his reindeer:

He also sprinkled reindeer dust in the snow in front of the house to help them find us. It’s a little hard to make out, but reindeer can see it, and that’s the important thing:

One gift that Everett received from Noni and took to right away was the puppet stage. Ever since it arrived he will announce from time to time that “The puppet show is open!”, then hand out tickets which must be held high in the air by all audience members throughout the performance:

The weather during their visit was odd. Cold, then freakishly warm, then bitterly cold. New Year’s Eve dinner was held partly outside on the patio – that’s how warm it was. The visit was also pretty eventful, though not always in the way we hoped. Beforehand we didn’t know the exact location of the emergency room at Froedtert, but in a two week period including the days after they left we had to make visits there for Chris, Amanda and Everett. The experience with Everett was particularly worrisome because he started making an unearthly sound in his sleep one night which alarmed us and woke him. After a little while he said “I need to go to the doctor”. He does not make idle comments, and we had no idea what was going on, so we packed up and went to the ER. They saw him pretty quickly and diagnosed him with croup. Chalk that one up to inexperienced parents perhaps. Would that have happened with a second kid? As one of my colleagues who has 10 children puts it: “No blood, no emergency room.”

With regard to the blog title: Like many urban areas, our city picks up our trash and recycling on a semi-regular basis. The schedule for these pickups is an implausibly complicated calendar that is published on the city website. We consider ourselves to be fairly well-educated people, but even after reading carefully we are never confident that we understand it correctly, and I can tell you that the neighbors don’t either. Everyday when Chris rides to work he sees entire neighborhoods of households who put out their trash/recycling guessing that it might be picked up, only to wheel full bins of refuse back into their garages at the end of the day. Anyway, in early December it seemed like the city stopped picking up recycling altogether. Things really started to pile up, and in response our neighborhood stopped wheeling their recycling bins back to their garages, all together. It was the kind of brazen yet cautious, non-confrontational act of civil disobedience you might expect from midwesterners. This is what it looked like:

In the midst of this Chris called the city and asked why recycling wasn’t being picked up and was told “Because they don’t follow our schedule”, and at that moment all became clear: the recycling problem is one thing that unites us, regardless of the wide-ranging political beliefs that exist in Wauwatosa, and our reaction to it allows us to think that in some small way we still have the spirit of the 1960s, similar to why one of Melissa’s committee members was almost gleeful over a public nuisance citation he received for not mowing his lawn often enough. It’s a spirit we can use more of these days and something we want to start teaching Everett as well.

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